In 2012, the most recent year for which National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) figures were available, 50.9% of recent low-income high school completers were enrolled in a two- or four-year college. Raised in an immigrant and in a low-income household, there was a low possibility I would have the opportunity to attend college. I am not the only student to experience these obstacles during the process of applying to college. While few people are able to attend these higher education institutions, they are not provided with adequate resources to succeed.
The needs of low-income students need to be addressed immediately. Higher education officials must research the academic challenges that students face and reevaluate the efficiency of resources on campus. I know this too well, as a low-income college student, it is difficult when my basic needs are not met. I don’t have resources to support myself. On the weekends, the campus dining halls are closed and have limited operating hours on weekdays. With this in mind, many of my peers stay up late hours to attend class and to finish homework. The cafeteria is closed during these hours so they are not getting the adequate meals to function throughout the day. Most low-income students at my school cannot afford to buy meals outside of the schools provided meals, so we are left to fend for ourselves and risk academic failure because of these challenges.
I am calling on my New York State legislators and higher education leaders to address the issue of food insecurity on campus immediately. School funding must be allocated to a basic needs hub program in every school that serves all students. There must be support for low-income students and they must be provided with adequate food, housing, clothing, and health-related support. A basic needs hub will take the burden off of low-income students to fend for themselves. I fight for my basic needs in higher education because I want to succeed academically and I would also like to see my peers succeed.
Maryam Feknous is a member of Young Invincibles-New York’s 2022 Spring Young Advocates Program.